Today, HRC is calling on Congress to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act (HR4) -- critically important civil rights legislation that would ensure fair access to the ballot for all Americans is protected. The measure will be introduced today by Representative Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
“Across the country, there are concerted efforts to strip voting rights from marginalized Americans, especially people of color,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The Voting Rights Advancement Act is a crucial step toward ensuring the voting rights of all Americans are restored and fully protected. Full equality will not be achieved until we halt the systematic efforts to restrict access to the ballot box, disenfranchise voters and undermine our democracy. HRC will stand in coalition across social justice movements to restore crucial voting rights protections for all Americans.”
On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court delivered a huge blow to civil rights in Shelby County v. Holder by declaring a key provision in the Voting Right Act (VRA) unconstitutional. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling, states and localities have brazenly pushed forward discriminatory changes to voting practices, such as changing district boundaries to disadvantage select voters, instituting more onerous voter identification laws, and changing polling locations with little notice. These laws especially disenfranchise people of color, the elderly, low-income people, and people with disabilities. Voters are more vulnerable to discrimination now than at any time since the Voting Rights Act was signed into law more than fifty years ago.
Within the LGBTQ community, people of color, LGBTQ youth, and transgender individuals are often the most impacted by weakened voting rights laws. A recent poll found that African-American and Latino voters were three times as likely as white voters to report trouble finding their polling place. With one-third of transgender people reporting having no government identification that reflects their gender identity, voter ID laws often forcibly “out” transgender voters to poll workers, putting them at risk for discrimination and harassment.